BC Green Party MLA Sonia Furstenau (second from the left) visited Ymir on Tuesday to speak with the community about the fight to protect its watershed from logging. She’s seen here looking at Ymir’s water intake with Ymir Watershed Protection Society spokesman Jason Leus (second from right) and former Nelson-Creston Green Party candidate Kim Charlesworth (far right). Photo: Tyler Harper

Green Party MLA talks watersheds with Ymir residents

Sonia Furstenau has experiencing protecting community water sources

When Sonia Furstenau first saw Ymir’s small but vital water intake, she instinctively wanted to protect it.

That’s been a familiar feeling for the BC Green MLA for Cowichan Valley. Furstenau has spent the last two years speaking in communities about what can be done to fight for and sustain local watersheds.

Before meeting with residents in Ymir on Tuesday morning, Furstenau took a trip with Ymir Watershed Protection Society spokesman Jason Leus to see the intake.

“I think that little pond and that tiny, little waterfall and weir, certainly indicates fragility,” she said. “This is not a watershed that has a lot of room to accommodate major shifts. It is a delicate, fragile and small watershed. I think all delicate and fragile things needs to be treated in that way.”

Furstenau, one of three Green MLAs in the BC legislature and the party’s house leader, stopped in Ymir as part of a three-day tour that included events in Nelson and Crawford Bay.

After being elected last year, Furstenau’s office received 100 handwritten letters from Ymir residents asking for help in its battle against BC Timber Sales’ plans to log its watershed.

She answered the call, and spoke to a large group at the Ymir Community Hall that included residents from other communities such as Glade who are also concerned about their water sources.

Furstenau has firsthand experience in protecting watersheds.

In Shawnigan Lake, she was part of a four-year protest against a company that was dumping up to 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil annually onto the community’s watershed. That ended in a victory for the community when then-environment minister Mary Polak cancelled Cobble Hill Holding’s waste discharge permit in February 2017.

That experienced informed Furstenau’s advice to Ymir residents, which focused on teamwork.

“In Shawnigan, we had the research team, the fundraising team, the communications team and the social media team. That just made us be able to work more effectively as a community and nobody was burning out. We spread out the leadership.

“Ultimately, building community is essential. There’s got to be joy, hope, vision and excitement for the future, because that fuels your efforts far more than anger or fear. It’s really about ultimately coming together, creating a vision of the future for the community, articulating that vision and taking one step toward that over and over.”

Related:

VIDEO: Ymir residents decry planned watershed logging

RDCK entangled in watershed logging controversies

Logging: who decides what (and how) to cut?

Environmental review checks for conflicts

Group wants Argenta Johnsons Landing face protected

Furstenau was also asked several times about a perceived disconnect between provincial government and rural communities, as well as the professional reliance model that requires resources companies to do their own environmental studies for any proposed project.

She cited Youbou, which is located in her riding and is currently grappling with logging plans residents say could cause landslides and affect their watershed.

“This is happening all over BC,” she said. “It’s an indication to me that our processes for making these decisions are not effective because they are creating so much conflict and anxiety in communities. People are ultimately not trusting these processes, and when you’ve lost trust in government decision making, you’re eating at the fundamental fabric of democracy.

“Professional reliance is a part of the breaking down of that integrity and trust.”

Regional District of Central Kootenay directors Ramona Faust, Tom Newell and Hans Cunningham also attended Furstenau’s talk. Cunningham, who represents Ymir and has previously spoken out against the logging plans, said he thought it was a productive event.

“I really enjoyed what she had to say, because what she spoke about is even though you can be small and insignificant, you can make change by working together and being relentless in where you want to go,” said Cunningham.

There was already evidence that was happening Tuesday. A sign-up sheet was passed around the room for anyone interested in creating a regional watershed society.

That sheet was full of names and email addresses before the meeting was over.



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Furstenau’s talk included anecdotes from her experiences protesting the dumping of contaminated soil in the watershed of Shawnigan Lake. Photo: Tyler Harper

Young protestors show off their signs at the Ymir Community Hall. Photo: Tyler Harper

Furstenau advised Ymir residents to focus on team building and creating a formal society, possibly in partnership with the Regional District of Central Kootenay. Photo: Tyler Harper

A large group of people attended the event despite it taking place on a Tuesday morning. Photo: Tyler Harper

Just Posted

Supreme Court of Canada will hear Sinixt appeal May 12

B.C. has appealed aboriginal hunting case through several levels of court starting in Nelson in 2016

Nelson’s Jesse Pineiro named B.C. boxing coach of the year

Pineiro and his fighters from Nelson Boxing Club were honoured at provincials

Fire destroys Fauquier restaurant

Early-morning blaze destroys Mushroom Addition

Salmo RCMP report drug bust

Fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine were seized along with Canadian cash

Nelson Leafs lose to Beaver Valley, will face Spokane in playoffs

Reid Wilson also finished the regular season third overall in scoring

VIDEO: Illicit drug overdoses killed 981 in B.C. in 2019, down 38%

Chief coroner says figures were down about a third in the province’s fourth year of the opioid crisis

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Royals, Elvis, Captain Cook: Hundreds of wax figures find new life in B.C. man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

‘Hilariously bad’: RCMP looking for couple with forged, paper Alberta licence plate

Mounties said the car crashed when it lost a wheel but the duo ran away as police arrived

Most Read